U2’s Bono called out for anti-Putin, pro-Ukraine rant: ‘Ireland will soon have less free speech than Russia’

U2’s Bono has long been a card-carrying member of the Woke Brigade, but when he went on an anti-Russian rant during his Las Vegas Sphere show, at least one popular X account thought the singer might want to focus on his home nation of Ireland.

Before launching into a cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” Bono paid tribute to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who recently died in a Russian Artic prison.

“Next week it’ll be two years since Putin invaded and tried to destroy the hard-won freedoms” of the Ukrainian people, Bono said. “Next it’ll be Poland, next it’ll be Lithuania, East Germany; who knows where this man will or won’t go.”

“To these people freedom is not just a word in a song,” Bono continued. “For these people freedom is the most important word in the world — so important that Ukrainians are fighting and dying for it. And it’s so important that Alexei Navalny chose to give his up.”

Navalny “voluntary” chose “to return to Russia in 2021, where he was immediately arrested upon arrival and sentenced to the remote Arctic penal colony where he died,” Variety reports.

“Apparently [Russian President Vladimir] Putin would never, ever say his name,” Bono told the Sin City crowd. “So I thought tonight, the people who believe in freedom must say his name. Not just remember it, but say it.”

He then led the audience in an “Alexei Navalny” chant.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the prime minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar is pushing a “hate speech” bill that Irish advocacy group Free Speech Ireland calls “a piece of legislation that will stifle critical voices.”


Aspects of the Hate Speech Bill, formally the “Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022,” are “ill-defined and unclear,” Free Speech Ireland argues.

It “not only criminalises individuals accountable for their own statements but extends liability to the mere sharing of content on social media, regardless of whether it was initially published by another user in a different country or jurisdiction,” the group warns.

“The possession of material which is not considered ‘reasonable’ or a ‘genuine contribution’ shall be an offence,” they say, and “a person may be found guilty irrespective of whether communication of material or behaviour was successful in inciting another person to violence or hatred.”

Additionally, it “poses a concerning scenario whereby managers and executives within corporations could face charges for hate offences solely based on the actions of their employees, such as instances of hate speech or possession of hateful material.”

“It undermines the fundamental principles of justice, fairness, and individual responsibility, painting an unfair picture of managerial accountability,” the group states. “Such a broad interpretation of liability risks discouraging individuals from assuming leadership roles and can stifle productive management practices within corporations.”

“Think about this carefully,” wrote The Last Refuge on X in response to Bono’s speech. “Ireland will soon have less free speech than Russia or even North Korea, yet Bono….”

 

Melissa Fine

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